The clock is now ticking for approximately 2,000 recipients to pay back $5,000 loans from the six-month-old Trust Loan Fund, with a warning that they won’t get away from repaying what they borrowed.
Trust Loan Steering Committe chairman Dr Clyde Mascoll, issued the warning in response to questions during the annual CFA Society of Barbados panel discussion at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination on Wednesday.
With the six-month grace period now passed, the borrowers are now required to start repaying the loans.
“The test period is coming, the repayment has started this month and there are some people that don’t expect to repay, but I can tell Barbadians, there is no way we are going to tolerate using taxpayers money for people to come and access and don’t repay. So, you will be pursued if you don’t repay.”
Mascoll stopped short of saying whether Government would go the extent of taking defaulters to court, but described the fund as “a meeting turn and therefore for a meeting turn to work you have to replenish the stock”.
At the start of this month, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland did report that some business owners had started paying back what they borrowed even before the grace period expired.
The $10 million fund, which was launched at the end of October last year, provides loans of up to $5,000 to qualifying applicants, with an opportunity for them to borrow twice the amount upon successful repayment of the initial loan.
Besides capital, entrepreneurs were also offered an opportunity to improve their skills in an effort to better manage business processes and promote their business through a training and mentorship programme under a Financial Literacy Bureau.
Mascoll, Government’s Chief Economic Counsellor, also declared that while Government would not overregulate any industry or restrict innovation, it would “have to get our slice” of taxes from those who find new ways of doing business.
Using Airbnb and Uber as examples, Mascoll explained that with the proliferation
of technology, people were finding new ways of making products and services more accessible to more customers while enfranchising others.
But, Dr Mascoll said: “We have to get our slice because it would not be right for you to have parallel market here doing well while all the others who have invested continue to pay more tax and you continue to hide more from the tax man, so we are coming because we are using the technology to come.
“This is what we have to do because people are going to innovate with technology and therefore taxing is going to become more complicated down the road, and one of these days soon we may not be able to find who is paying the tax, but as we now, this thing has evolved, but we are coming because truth be told, in order to take care of the vulnerable, the well-to-do need to play their part.”